Ends of the Earth

I’ve been fortunate to be able to go pretty much wherever I wished in search of game fish. The interior of Iceland for arctic char and browns, the Atlas Mountains for browns and hashhish, Hungary for Huchen, Bosnia-Herzegovina (the place may have been Yugoslavia when I was there in the early 70s) for marble trout, and so on. All this peripatetic angling took place twenty years or more in the past. Now my roaming is confined to North America. This normally means Montana, Wyoming, the western Dakotas, Saskatchewan, Alberta, eastern and northern British Columbia, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories. This is more than enough country for finding solitude and interesting fishing. And I’m learning that wandering the arid stretches of my home state of Montana sometimes produces fishing curiosities of a worthwhile nature. The dirt track in the photograph above appears to lead to nothing of interest in terms of flyfishing, but looks are deceiving. Around those hills and down into a large depression finds a spring-fed pond that has not suffered the ravages of alkali saturation. Cattails and lily pads at twenty paces. A woolly bugger plopped out on the water and stripped back turns some serious smallmouth that fight like madmen. And these were some of the largest of this species I’d taken anywhere. I learned later that they’d been planted by a rancher who grazed cattle on this BLM turf. While in early spring the land is lush green and inviting, by July it’s desiccated, except for the pond, with temperatures well above 110. Flies are in abundance and they bite, but since this little wonder exists out here, imagine what else is waiting in the emptiness of the northern high plains just out of convenient view.


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